Soviet Sea Power

Hervé Coutau-Bégarie 



Soviet Maritime Power – an Enigma?


The major innovation of the 1970’s was the spread, to the sea, of the con­frontation between the Western bloc and the Soviet bloc, which previously had been almost ex­clusively on land. Through a colossal effort, the Soviets managed to build a blue‑water navy for themselves which within a few years spread out all over the world: In 1961, start of annual exercises in the Sea of Norway; in 1964, a task force turned up in the Mediterranean; con­siderably boosted, it became a squadron in 1967; in 1965, the vessels of the Pacific Fleet ventured into the Sea of Japan; in 1967, exercises began in the North Atlantic; in 1968, vessels penetrated into the Indian Ocean; in 1969, they returned to the Caribbean which they had evacuated after 1962 and they also entered the South Atlantic; in 1971, a hydro­graphic survey program, the usual prelude to the appear­ance of warships, was conducted in the Pacific with consid­erable resources. Operation Okean II, in 1974 was carried out simultaneously on all oceans as a sign of the completion of the internationalization of the Soviet presence. Better than any lengthy verbal description, we have five maps, which enable us to grasp the speed and extent of this pene­tration. The first four maps show the activities of the Soviet navy in 1960, 1966, 1970, and 1974. The fifth map indicates the zones in which Operation Okean II was carried out in April 1975.

This abrupt eruption of the Soviet fleet on the high seas basically turned the global relation of forces upside down. “However, while these changes did indeed take place, the increased ‘visibility’ of the Soviet Navy is above all due to the fact that the Westerners are devoting much more at­tention than before to the role and the place which it occu­pies in the military system of the USSR” [1].

The albeit modest presence of Soviet units in the Mediterranean during the Six‑Day War in 1967 as a matter of fact did attract attention quite abruptly to that navy which until then had been simply overlooked. The debate began the next year with the book by Robert W. Herrick, entitled Soviet Naval Strategy. And it never stopped since; by now we have at least 15 books devoted exclusively to the Soviet navy and published in the United States during the 1970’s, as against just a single book on the U.S. Navy [2]. There was a flood of articles in U.S. Naval Institute Pro­ceedings and Naval War College Review, analyzing the lat­est developments in naval ship­building, in forward deploy­ment, and in operational doctrines. The result of this explo­sion was confusion. In 1970, James Cable spoke of the “So­viet naval enigma” [3]. After a decade and thousands of pages, there is still un­certainty on almost all points under discus­sion: For some people, the Soviet navy is basically defen­sive; for others, on the contrary, it is resolutely offensive; still others think that it is above all political. And disagree­ments do not stop there: For many people, the central ele­ment is the strategic submarine force while others stress attack on merchant traffic or support for land operations. The strategic missile‑firing submarines are even assigned attack on surface vessels as a fundamental mission: Or it is announced that the forward deployment will give way to a withdrawal into Soviet waters.

In a quite natural way, these byzantine discussions are being turned into a bitter debate among opposing ex­tremists, as noted by James Cable in 1970: “Those who believe in the sinister omnipotence of the Soviet navy make their critics so angry that the latter are often persuaded to downgrade a menace whose distortion they have correctly perceived” [4]. This rise to extremes in strategic analysis is

not due to chance or fortuitous circumstances: On the con­trary, it springs from deeply rooted mental habits.

In the beginning there was the belief in the conti­nental nature of the USSR. The latter is extremely old: “John Quincy Adams, United States minister in Russia, told Count Romantsov, the foreign affairs minister, in 1811, that Russia could never be a big naval power because nature somehow denied it the possibility for that” [5]. Mahan never seriously challenged that statement and in 1930, still, the collection entitled Great Sea Stories of All the Nations com­pletely ignored Russia. This was the real dogma until the 1960’s: Geography and history condemned the Soviet Union to remaining continental.

Geographically speaking, Russia is quite in keeping with the famous definition by Churchill: “A giant whose nostrils have been plugged up.” Its four Mari­time frontiers are isolated from each other and are more or less closed off. The Baltic is completely blocked by the straits of Kategatt and Skragerrak, without any possibility of passage in force. The Black Sea is similarly closed off by the Turkish straits whose passage is governed by the 1936 Montreux conven­tion which imposes heavy constraints on Soviet vessels: Ban on the passage of submarines, aircraft carriers, and units equipped with guns having a caliber in excess of 203 mm, obligation to give advanced notification of passages and to abide by certain quotas. Of course, the effect of some of these provisions has been toned down with the passage of time: The Turks allowed the Moskva and then the Kiev class vessels to go through; they are aircraft carriers just the same although the Turks con­sidered that they carried not only aircraft but also powerful missile armament and that the Soviets call them “big ASW cruisers”; the replace­ment of guns by missiles did away with the restriction on calibers; the Soviets solved the quota problem by always announcing the maximum transit movements so as to have a reserve that would enable them in case of need to get all of the laggards out all at once. But this is a rather bothersome annoyance in peacetime because there is always the risk that the Turks might return to a stricter interpretation of the convention, even though such an eventuality may be rather unlikely, both for legal reasons – the Soviets can claim custom‑­and for political reasons – the Turks do not want to provoke the Soviets openly. The Soviets made a big effort to interconnect the three western theaters of opera­tions with the help of the five seas system, a network of ca­nals permitting the passage of units of less than 5 000 t between the Caspian Sea, the Sea of Azov, the Black Seas the Baltic Sea, and the White Sea. This system was finished in 1976 with the widening of the northern section (Baltic – Arctic). Transit movement between fleets are now consider­ably facilitated but the biggest vessels are still forced to pass through the Atlantic.

The Pacific is partly closed: Vladivostok, the princi­pal port, depends on the Japanese straits: La Perouse [Soya Strait] (between Sakhalin and Hokkaido) and Tsugaru (be­tween Hokkaido and Honshu) in order to reach the Pacific and Tsushima (between Japan and Korea) to reach the China Sea. To be sure, Soviet vessels can sail further to the north through the Kurile Islands but that necessitates a long detour and the strait of Tartaria, the chokepoint be­tween Sakhalin and the continent, is very narrow and thus

ideal for air attacks or mine‑laying while surveillance of departures between the Kurile Islands is easy. The prox­imity of American bases in the Aleutians (Dutch Harbor) makes this threat very real. Petropavlosk, at the tip of Kamchatka, faces directly upon the open ocean but is blocked by ice at least 3 months per year and has no land connection with the continent. Finally, the Pacific is very far from Western theaters of operations, in spite of the opening of the Arctic route (9 000 km instead of 20 000 km via the south) which is use­less a portion of the year in spite of atomic icebreakers. Its only link with Europe, the Trans‑Siberien railroad, is moreover very vulnerable to a nuclear attack.

Only the White Sea is in a favorable location with the ports of Murmansk, which is always ice‑free, of Severod vinsk and Arkhangelsk, available during the good season but far from the NATO bases; the Svalbard Archipelago belongs to Norway but the 1920 treaty demilitarized it and NATO defenses are moved further to the south, to the Greenland – Iceland – United Kingdom line. But with cur­rent means, the passages in the Feroe Islands (550 miles between the United Kingdom and Iceland) and even more so the strait of Denmark (200 miles between Greenland and Iceland) can be watched easily and passage is far from sure, even for submarines. Access to the Mediterranean must be obtained through the Strait of Gibraltar. Everywhere, the Soviet Union is running into locked doors. A look at the maps will show this eloquently.

Mackinder had already noted this handicap and predicted that any Russian effort would be aimed at jump­ing over those locks, while the maritime power facing that effort would on the contrary be used to keep those gateways locked. Following the beginning of the century, the tsars

 were replaced by the heirs of Lenin and Great Britain passed on to the United States the role of policeman of the oceans; but the lesson of Mackinder has not been forgot­ten. At the end of World War II, Stalin tried to gain access to the open sea: In November 1944, Molotov demanded of Trygve Lie, the Norwegian foreign affairs minister, the ces­sion of Bear Island and the sharing of sovereignty over Svalbard. Norway was forced to enter negotiations on this subject but terminated them in 1947 when it felt assured of American support. To jump over the Danish lock, Stalin wanted his troops to occupy Schleswig‑Holstein but Montgommery’s army group got there first and Schleswig remained in the Western occupation zone. At Potsdam he then demanded that the approaches to the Baltic, including the Kiel Canal, be placed under the control of an interna­tional authority, which of course would have included the Soviet Union, but Truman turned a deaf ear. He supported the Bulgarian claim to the recovery of the Aegean port of Dedeagach (Alexandropolis), which had been annexed by Greece after the Second Balkan war, but, with western support, Greece refused and the guerrilla war launched by the Greek communists ended in failure. Referring to the treaty of Rocconigio, signed in 1909 by Italy and tsarist Russia, Molotov demanded a mandate over Tripolitania, as well as the port of Massawa in Eritrea, but without re­sult. To Turkey he suggested a common defense of the straits: Truman replied with his famous doctrine whose first beneficiaries were Greece and Turkey. The only result was obtained in the Pacific with the annexation of the southern half of Sakhalin and the Kurile Islands, but the occupation of the Chinese ports of Dairen and Port‑Arthur, which are of great strategic value, was not lasting. Stalin’s attempt ended in almost complete failure, which was fur­ther completed by the loss of the Yugoslav ports in 1948, followed by the loss of the Chinese bases in 1955, and fi­nally the Albanian port of Valona in 1961. The USSR thus found itself back on square one.

In addition to this geographic obstacle, there is the heavy burden of the past: Russia is not a seafaring nation and throughout its long tumultuous maritime career, fol­lowing the defeat of Rurik, prince of Novgorod, before Byzantium, in 860, all the way to Tsushima, it took to the sea only to be beaten. The exceptions are rare: Oesel (1719) and Svenka Sund (1790), victories over the Swedes, are engagements of little importance. Chesme, on 7 July 1770, a victory over the Turks, is more significant, but Admiral Orlov only exercised nominal command: The real victors were his deputies Greig, Elphinstone, Dundale [illegible in Photostat], and Mackensie. All of them were British. Only Sinope, on 30 November 1853, was a real Russian vic­tory: Admiral Nakhimov, with five sailing vessels and three steamships, surprised and wiped out a Turkish squadron. So, the bottom line thus adds up to rather little.

Even more seriously, the lack of a seafaring spirit among the Russian people is to be found also among its leaders who are incapable of designing and con­ducting a long‑term naval policy, thus dooming the attempts to achieve maritime power status to nothing but empty ges­tures without any follow-up. After the Russo‑Turkish War, Russia made a tremendous effort, which enabled it to reach third rank among naval powers after the United Kingdom and France. It even distinguished itself by several innova­tions of its own: It was one of the first to develop the use of mines and torpedoes, it was the first to build pocket subma­rines (suitable for shipment from one sea to the next by rail), and Admiral Makarov invented the floating docks and the icebreakers. But the war with Japan (1904‑1905) in

Text Box: The System ou Five Seaes
Text Box: Légend :
I – Bielmorsko-Batitskiy kanal, linking Bielomorsk on the White Sea to Lake Onega;
II – Lake Onega; 
III – Novaladozhskiy kanal, along the south shore of Lake Ladoga, linking the Svir River, coming from the Lake Onega, to the Neva, Leningrad and the Baltic
IV – Volgo-Baltiskiy Vodny, linking the latter Kanal with Lake Tybinskoye Vodokhranilishche and then with the Volga
VI – The Volga-don Kanal links the Volga to the Don on the level of Volgograd

a tragic manner demonstrated the insuffi­ciencies of the equipment and the crews and the total absence of com­mand, with the exception of Admiral Makarov, the most brilliant sailor of his time, who died without having done all he was capable of doing. The Pacific squadron was wiped out at Port Arthur in 1904 and the Baltic squadron, which had come to reinforce it after a long cruise of 7 months, suf­fered the same fate the next year at Tsushima; the last in­tact squadron, the Black Sea squadron, mutinied (this is the episode of the rather inglorious but famous episode of the Cruiser Potemkin). In just a year, the Russian fleet slipped from third rank to sixth rank. A rebuilding plan was drawn up in 1907 but was carried out only very slowly, in spite of the efforts of Admiral von Essen, so that the Russian navy in 1914 had declined even further and occu­pied only eighth place. Its performance during World War I was hardly honorable. The new dreadnoughts (three Volya ships in the Black Sea and four Poltava units in the Baltic) available starting in 1915 played no active role. The Baltic fleet, which lost its leader in May 1915 with the death of Admiral von Essen, put to sea from the Gulf of Finland only a few times without any consequences and the Black Sea Squadron was incapable of supporting the French‑British attempt to conquer the Turkish straits in 1915.

The revolution of 1917 saw the inglorious end of the imperial navy: The crews mutinied, many officers were murdered or left the country, many ships were scuttled, and the Black Sea Squadron found refuge at Bizerte with the remnants of the Wrangel Army. At the end of the Civil war, the Russian navy had ceased to exist; the remaining vessels were unavailable due to lack of personnel and main­tenance. Lenin, who knew nothing about all that, lost his interest after the mutiny of the sailors at Kronstadt (1921), which was crushed by Trotsky, and did nothing to correct the situation.

An embryo of the fleet was restored in the Baltic and in the Black Sea only in 1924, with the remnants of the im­perial navy. A shipbuilding program was drawn up in 1926 and the first Five‑year Plan (1928‑1933) gave priority to submarines. The Pacific Squadron was restored in 1932 and the Arc tic Squadron was created in 1933: But all of these measures were just an illusion: The 1926 plan was not car­ried out except for the submarines; the reconstituted Pacific Squadron all in all consisted of one submarine and the Northern Squadron existed only on paper. The Second Five‑year Plan called for the construction of surface vessels but it likewise was hardly carried out in this respect. The navy thus remained an exclusively coastal navy and was unable to do anything during the Civil War in Spain to pro­tect shipments of arms to the republican government. Stalin learned the proper lessons from that: The Ministry of the Navy was restored on 30 November 1937 and money was allocated in the Third Five‑year Plan for the construc­tion of a blue‑water navy which was, in 1943, by the end of the plan, to include 19 battleships and battle cruisers, 20 cruisers, 160 destroyers, 340 submarines, and 1 500 air­craft. To move faster, the navy even tried to purchase ves­sels from the United States – but in vain.

But, once again, the war was to interrupt this effort, which had already been damaged by the purges that had gutted the navy’s command structure. Shipbuilding work was stopped and wartime operations inflicted heavy losses (45% of the submarines and half of the surface fleet) in re­turn for results that were way out of proportion. In spite of their courage, the sailors, as fighting men, shone only on

land. The Arctic Squadron did nothing to protect the British convoys heading for Murmansk or Arkhangelsk; its sailors never ventured out into the open sea. The Baltic Squadron, which had found refuge at the end of the Gulf of Finland, was unable to undertake the slightest offensive action, even in 1945, during the evacuation of German troops from Kurland and East Prussia. Likewise, the Black Sea Squad­ron did nothing to try to interfere with the evacuation from the Krimea in 1944. After the war, The History of the Great Patriotic War announced that the Red Fleet had sunk 3.5 million tons of German vessels. Later on, that figure was reduced to 1,5 million tons. We would further have to re­duce that figure by a good third to get a reasonable esti­mate. In spite of these more than mediocre re­sults, Stalin drew up a 20 year plan which displayed a certain degree of megalomania since it called for 1 200 submarines, 200 es­cort vessels, 200 destroyers, 36 cruisers, four bat­tle‑cruisers, four aircraft carriers, and 5 000 aircraft. This phenomenal fleet nevertheless was to have an essentially coastal mission. For reasons not clarified, the Ministry of the Navy was dissolved on 25 February 1946 to be recreated exactly 4 years later, on 25 February 1950. Following Stalin’s death on 5 March 1953, there was a reaction from the Army, which was jealous of the priority given to the fleet during the Stalin years. It only took 10 days to inte­grate the navy into a big defense ministry within which the army’s influence was naturally pre­ponderant. This change in direction was supported by Khrushchev who rejected Stalin’s heritage and publicly proclaimed that fleets were outdated; he stopped the construction of big surface vessels and the navy, which in 1955 had tested the first missile on a submarine, had to suspend its ballistic missile program for a short time.

There was of course a Soviet navy. It was even rather big since it alone had more submarines than all of the other navies together; but its ships were based on a de­sign dating back to the 1930’s: The cruisers of the Sverdlov class, which entered service during the 1950’s, were only modified Chapayev class vessels and they had originally been laid down in 1939‑1940 and were finished after the war; similarly, the Skory destroyers were improved Ogne­voi [6]; the Whisky submarines were based on the captured German type XXI U‑boats. And official strategy was stuck with coastal defense and support of land operations; the offensive mission is assigned only to the submarines [7]. Sur­face vessels never showed up on the high seas, even during crises; we did not see them at Suez in 1956, nor off the coast of Lebanon in 1958. While the USSR was feared on land, it appeared to be non­existent on the sea and nothing seemed to be changing this state of affairs. And so the Americans did not pay too much attention to a change in attitude, which began to take shape at the end of the 1950’s.

The ocean deterrence program launched by the Eisenhower Administration and stepped up by Kennedy after his arrival in the White House to close a missile gap – which, it was learned later on, existed only in the entirely too fertile imagination of Albert Wohlstetter – in effect persuaded the Soviets to redis­cover the sea. In the face of the American triad, which was in the process of being put together, they also undertook to provide themselves with missile submarines; this is the action‑and‑reaction aspect of the arms race [8]. On the other hand, the presence of the Po­laris submarines and aircraft carriers, with aircraft carry­ing nuclear bombs, off their coastlines forced the Soviets to move their ASW defenses beyond their coastal waters. The return to the sea thus came prior to the Cuban missile cri­sis; for Michael Mac Gwaire, the deci­sion regarding the forward deployment was made in 1961 [9]. Military Strategy by Marshal Sokolovskiy, a summary of official strategic doctrines, in its 1962 edition states that the main theater of operations of the fleet would be the high seas.

But it was the Cuban missile crisis that served as catalyst and made the Soviet leaders fully understand the need for obtaining maritime power. The USSR had sorted out of its continental approaches for the first time and was trying to establish an overseas base. The affair ended in a humiliating retreat [10]. It was already rather risky to try to install missiles in the immediate vicinity of the United States, at a moment when the latter’s nuclear superiority gave the United States broad freedom of maneuver. The Soviet leaders were in a good position to know that the mis­sile gap did not exist and Kennedy also realized that the moment he moved into the White House. But the under­taking became entirely senseless the moment the Soviet Union had no naval support: In the face of an unprece­dented concentration of American ships, the Soviet fleet was able to muster only six conventional submarines that were constantly being tracked by the U.S. Navy and that could have been destroyed at any moment. Because he did not understand the basic axiom of any strategy – you do not attack where you are weakest and where the enemy is strongest – Khrushchev lost face and his power. But the lesson was learned and the Soviet Union resolutely em­barked upon the search for maritime power.

Following Michael Mac Gwire, analysts today tend to reduce the role of the missile crisis in the process of So­viet accession to maritime power. Cuba however did play a considerable part: The 1961 decision was in keeping with a strictly defined concern for strategic defense; after the 1962 crisis, the navy’s missions were progressively enlarged to enable it to intervene in local crises, thus moving from na­tional territory defense to the “protection of the interests of the state.”

But that was not realized at the time. Quite under­standably, attention was concentrated on the more spec­tacular aspect, the swift nuclear escalation, especially since the crisis had loudly confirmed the nonexistence of the USSR on the sea. The awakening did not come until 5 years later, with the first major manifestation of Soviet naval diplomacy during the Six‑Day War. Quite suddenly, the American strategists found themselves facing a situation that was radically new for them even though in reality it was only the end of the fourth attempt to reconstitute the Russian fleet in less than a century that is, 1880, 1910, 1928, and 1945 [11]. With their calm unanimity shaken, they reacted in two ways.

The minimalists could not get themselves to see be­yond the traditional image, which pictured the USSR as a continental power. Unable to deny the reality of Soviet maritime power, they tried to reduce it to a strictly defen­sive dimension. That was the thrust of the analyses by Robert I. Herrick in 1968 and Michael Mac Gwire in 1970 [12]. This tendency was natu­rally dominant immediately after Soviet naval expansion but developments during the 1970’s caused it to crumble. It nevertheless retained its supporters. Mac Gwire remained loyal to it; in 1977 he was still reaffirming that “in spite of the change represented by forward deployment, the Soviets are still building a navy for a strictly‑defined defensive mission, designed with a view to a general war” [13]. Of course, he was not unfamiliar with the evolution that had taken place at the beginning of the 1970’s [14] but he constantly tended to minimize it, going even so far as to write the following: “The Soviet Union does not seem to attach the same importance as the West to the use­fulness of military force as an instrument of foreign policy” [15]; this, as we shall see, was hardly confirmed by the opera­tions of the Soviet fleet during the last decade. Mac Gwire nevertheless is a rather extreme case [16]. Some of his follow­ers are looking much further. In 1978, James Westwood, comparing the analyses by Herrick to subsequent events, concluded rather coldly: “The essential mission of the Soviet fleet was and continues to be the defense of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact. Herrick was right when he wrote that and what he wrote is still correct” [17]. Gary Charbonneau goes even further; He adopts the thesis of Mac Gwire on forward deployment as being motivated by the struggle against the Polaris [submarine] and protection for Soviet strategic submarines and pushes it to the extreme con­se­quences: Forward deployment was motivated by the insuffi­cient range of the SSN6 missiles, so that the entry into ser­vice of the very‑long‑range SSN8 missiles “could very well lead to the beginning of a retreat from forward deployment for a redeployment in coastal waters”. Since surface navies are designed to protect submarines, their role is now ques­tioned; they will probably continue to be built because Ad­miral Gorskhov believes in them but he would have trou­ble justifying them [18]. To be sure, holding on to a remnant of caution, Charbonneau presents his line of argument as an assumption but this is the only one which seems valid to him: The Soviet navy is not directed against the NATO communication lines and proof of this is to be found in the fact that the submarines, which are not assigned to the pro­tection of strategic submarines, are old. There is thus no break between the concepts of Khrushchev and those of his successors; the former developed the missile­firing sub­marines while the latter developed surface navies only be­cause they realized that unprotected submarines were en­tirely too vulnerable [19].

This kind of reason starts with a specific initial fact: The defensive nature of the Soviet deployment in its begin­nings and the capital importance assigned to ocean deter­rence in the forward deployment decision – in order to turn it into a single explanatory factor without taking into ac­count the changes that were possible after that: When Herrick and Mac Gwaire presented their theses, the lat­ter were probably correct but the abrupt changes that have taken place since then mean that we must discard them: A concern for defense cannot explain this worldwide deploy­ment and the intensive naval diplomacy toward the Third World certainly was not designed for the protection of mis­sile‑firing submarines. Westwood and Charbonneau re­fused to realize that the 1961 decision was only a first stage, that the Soviets, following the Cuban missile crisis, broadened the military missions of their navy, and that, after the Six‑Day War, they progressively realized the bene­fits which they could draw from an active naval diplomacy. By sticking to outdated ideas, they deny the evidence: The Soviet fleet is not confining itself any longer to its initial functions and the USSR has become a full‑fledged maritime power.

The position of the minimalists has declined con­stantly and the arguments of Charbonneau and Westwood are hardly encountering any echo. The fore­ground is now occupied by the maximalists who never stop warning everybody against the rise of Soviet power: Sailors of the U.S. Navy and former sailors in the Navy League, always very much concerned with getting money allocated for their navy and hawks of all kinds who campaign against the ratification of SALT II and for stepping up the defense effort. In his report to Congress each year, the chief of naval operations repeats his warnings: The Soviet fleet keeps growing stronger while the U.S. Navy has been declining con­tinually, as shown by constantly repeated statistics. Here, for example, is a table taken from the budget draft prepared by the Pentagon for FY 1980.

This table needs no comment in the opinion of the pessimists. In reality, there are some urgent questions: Should an overall comparison not take into account the re­spective allies of the United States and the Soviet Union? While the latter have no vessels capable of operating on the high seas, the support represented by the former is quite considerable. And one would of course also take into ac­count the Chinese navy. But let us confine ourselves to a comparison between the USSR and the United States: Is the parameter selected here a good one? Is the overwhelm­ing Soviet superiority that it indicates really confirmed by other parameters? Let us replace the total tonnage with the number of ships. We then get the following table for the year 1981.

Table I [20]













1. Porte-Avion





2. Autres bâtiments de surface





3. Sous-marins





4. Navires de commandement





5. Patrouilleurs divers





6. Bâtiments amphibies





7. Bâtiments anti-mines





8. Soutien logistique mobile





9. Autres navires de support







1 670


1 769

Source: Défense nationale, June 1979.


Table II [21]



5. US


1. Force océanique stratégique

240 500 t

608 600 t

2. Bâtiments de combat

2 013 950 t

2 025 600 t

3. Bâtiments amphibies

692 300 t

141 900 t

4. Navires de soutien logistique

880 000 t

499 700 t


3 826 750 t

3 275 800 t

Source: Jean Labayle‑Couhat, Les flottes de combat 1982 [The Battle Fleets, 1982], Editions maritimes et d’ou­tre‑mer, Paris, 1982.


With this parameter, which is as valid or as disput­able as the preceding one, American inferiority becomes superiority, thus revealing a difference of structure between the two fleets: The average tonnage of U.S. Navy vessels is 7,150 t, as against 1,660 t for its rival. This ratio of 1:4.4 clearly shows that the Soviet fleet comprises a vast number of coastal units whereas the American navy is truly a blue‑water navy. It thus appears that the table showing the number of vessels includes a good number of Soviet units with small tonnage, exclusively for coastal missions, and hardly of any account in the overall ratio of forces; the U.S. Navy is not going to try to force the Danish or Turkish straits. A more realistic classification would require us in­stead to compare the ships, category by category.

Commander Mac Intyre engaged in such an exer­cise; according to him, the USSR in 1975 prevailed in cruis­ers, frigates, destroyers, escort vessels, nuclear attack sub­marines armed with anti‑surface missiles, conventional submarines, missile‑firing patrol craft, anti‑mine vessels, and certain logistic vessels. The United States retained an advantage in aircraft carriers, in nuclear attack submarines armed with torpedoes, in amphibious vessels, and in big supply ships [22].

This comparison is also much more dangerous be­cause it is more sophisticated, because it involves qualita­tive criteria that are more realistic, and because it com­pares comparable ships: The structural differences between American and Soviet vessels in the same classes are consid­erable and any equivalence scale in reality results from the analyst’s subjective preferences. Should one give preference to speed (where the USSR has the advantage) to the detri­ment of secrecy (where the United States has the advan­tage)? Or should one give preference to firepower (Soviet superiority) to the detriment of protection (American supe­riority)?

But that is not the problem. Regardless of its techni­cal value, which may be excellent, the quantitative com­parison of fleets does not enable us to draw conclusions as to the maritime strength of the United States or the Soviet Union, for two reasons.

The first one is universal: Maritime power does not boil down to naval strength alone. To be valid, a comparison must not be based on a single static element but must con­sider power, that is to say, “the accumulation of real and potential forces used by an actor with more or less skill to attain his foreign policy goals” [23]. Maritime power results from the accumulation of a geographic location, a fleet, for­eign bases, a command and control system, and strategic doctrines. The fleet is only one element among many others, a central element, certainly, but an element, which in the end cannot be the most important. Thus, contrary to cur­rent opinion, the Soviet fleet was numerically stronger in 1955 than in 1980; between those two dates, its personnel strength dropped from 800 000 to 433 000 men; the naval air arm declined abruptly from 4 000 aircraft to 1 400; the number of surface combat vessels diminished slightly, from 300 down to 289, and the number of submarines shrank from 475 to 344, including 87 strategic missile firing sub­marines. Still, in 1955, almost nobody was alarmed by the deadly threat, which the Soviet fleet posed to the Atlantic Alliance [24]. It is thus obvious that the rise in Soviet mari­time power does not result from a quantitative change in its fleet.

The other reason has to do with the nature of rival powers. The quantitative comparative approach could be justified when it concerned two battle corps intended to fight in‑line: The makeup of the fleets was the same and their only elements of differentiation were the number of units and the quality of the crews and the command. This is no longer true today. As demonstrated by professor Jean‑Louis Martres [25], the power structures of the United States and the Soviet Union are asymmetrical: The United States and its allies, western Europe and Japan, are totally dependent on their maritime lines of communication for a large number of vital supplies and they will continue to be so increasingly, whereas the Soviet Union is capable of liv­ing under a system of autarchy for a very long period of time. It is thus evi­dent that the missions of the two fleets are not comparable: The U.S. Navy must keep the lines of communication open because the United States cannot live without them, whereas the Soviet fleet does not need to protect any vital communication lines but instead has to cut those of its adversary. The dissymmetry is total: The Americans must at any price retain command of the sea whereas the Soviets do not have this concern: Control of the sea matters little to them; to win, it suffices for them to see to it that the Americans cease to have mastery of the sea. In summary, they are in the position of the guerrilla fighter who “strikes where and when he wants to, so as to obtain the maximum surprise; he does not have to fight the adversary for land, foot by foot; instead, he strikes and disappears. Thus a con­siderably inferior force can successfully counter a superior force” [26].

In such a perspective, the relationship of forces can turn out to be very different from what the raw statistics suggest, especially if we take into account the environment: The fleets are no longer cut off from the rest of the world, the maritime power has become an air‑maritime power and shore based naval aviation can often be a factor of capital importance. Admiral Steinhaus gave an enlightening ex­ample of this in looking at the sector of the Danish straits: “At first sight, the ratio of naval forces seems also unfavor­able to NATO but such a comparison should take into ac­count the fact that many of the big surface units of the Baltic Fleet and most of its sub­marines are little suited for combat in the Baltic Sea, having been designed for operations on the high seas in conjunction with the Northern Fleet. Moreover, the rather shallow waters lend themselves nicely to a defen­sive mine warfare. The German and Danish marine units stationed in the Baltic were developed specifically with a view to anti‑invasion operations in these waters. By itself, the force of fast German patrol craft currently has 120 sur­face‑to‑surface missile‑launching units. If you also look at the fighting power of the fighter‑bomber units integrated into the German Navy (which in the near future will be get­ting the MRCA aircraft armed with air­to‑surface missiles), plus the fighting power of the Danish and German coastal submarines (designed for operations in the Baltic), then the negative image from the quantitative viewpoint becomes satisfactory from the angle of missions to be carried out” [27]. Although this conclusion could be debated, this example does reveal the complexity of the analysis of the ratio of forces.

The unsuitability of the quantitative comparative analysis for the current structures of maritime power nev­ertheless does not prevent it from being the most frequently used. Those who employ it are not engaged in any scientific pursuit but merely want to send a message: “hatch out for the Soviet threat”. Their thrust is doctrinal or ideological, for the most alarmist. Behind an objective appearance, the purpose of the ideological analysis is to bring about the ap­pearance of a stereotype, of a simplifying image, by blowing up the Soviet threat so that the pressure of public opinion would force the American leaders to make an increased de­fense effort. The doctrinal analysis has the same purpose but does not seek to mobilize public opinion. In both cases, the highly‑touted objective is to stop the quantitative de­cline of the U.S. Navy. But the virulence of these attacks results not only from a frantic search for money allocations. It also springs from deeply rooted mental habits.

The intensity of the reaction of the maximalists as a matter of fact should not surprise us. Hedley Bull clearly emphasized the strict analogy between British‑German naval rivalry at the start of this century and the rivalry today between the United States and the Soviet Union: “In both cases, the competitor produces in the dominant An­glo‑Saxon maritime power a feeling of virtuous indignation in response to the idea that the distribution of power existing on the oceans could be disturbed. Great Britain maintained that, as far as it was concerned, considering its dependence on maritime trade and its position at the center of a mari­time empire, maritime power was a necessity whereas, for Germany, it was a luxury”. Dr. Schlesinger and Admiral Zumwalt echoed these same feelings: “The United States is at the center of a system of alliances which vitally depends on its maritime communication lines while being also itself very dependent on commerce, although less so than Great Britain; the Soviet Union is not in such a situation” [28]. We run into this analysis again as we are told that Soviet mari­time power is an anomaly [29]; it is not based on any geo­graphic or economic or military necessity and it does not follow any historical tradition. In short, it is artificial and illegitimate: “The USSR is unique in history because it be­came a big naval power in spite of the absence of conditions historically associated with the development of navies and merchant fleets” [30].

The parallelism with the British reactions at the be­ginning of the century in the face of the German challenge is striking. Quite understandably, the country that holds power can only feel attacked by the efforts of its weaker adversary to obtain parity. But in the present case, the violence of the debate is further aggravated by two constant threads in American strategic thinking.

The first one is pessimism. It is often attributed to the method of reasoning by scenarios, used by the American strategists and forcing us to take into account the worst‑case assumption which winds up controlling the en­tire demonstration [31]. But this is a traditional attitude among them, which does not date back to the missile gap of Albert Wohlstetter. We can find a striking example of that in the Anglo‑American naval rivalry following World war I, particularly after the Washington naval armaments limitation treaty: Although the United States was behind the treaty and although the latter largely reflected its con­cepts, certain American naval circles criticized it violently because it did not yield complete equality with the United kingdom in the matter of cruisers. This resulted in a series of bitter debates in which the good faith of the treaty’s de­tractors was sometimes questioned. In 1922, Congress and the press thus discovered that no country had begun to dis­arm the surplus vessels; that was true for the United States but Great Britain had already sold or scratched 19 battle­ships. The American press maintained that these ships had no military value whereas they involved dreadnoughts and super dreadnoughts similar to those constituting the arma­ment of all fleets. This affair had barely been settled when American sailors became incensed, on the minor issue of the angle of elevation of the guns, based on information on British guns which turned out to be false; but that did not prevent the Navy Department from continuing to stir the problem up. Other fantastic reports were being circulated and when the Navy in 1924 undertook to disarm the battle­ship Washington, in accordance with the treaty, a private individual did not hesitate to ask the Justice Depart­ment to stop that operation [32]. So we can see that the quality of cur­rent debates is by no means below that of the discussions at that time. The proce­dures remain the same, with sensa­tional disclosures on the latest Soviet progress on the eve of each budget debate, the shattering declarations by Admiral Zumwalt. But the trend toward pessimism is further ag­gravated by the American moral crisis: During a period of doubts, one does count one’s missiles and one’s ships just to reassure oneself. But here again public opinion can find hardly any subjects for satisfaction, which, through a vi­cious circle, can only strengthen the surrounding pessi­mism.

There is one last factor that is involved in this dis­cussion: Almost all American strategic writings contain an underlying moralism. The criticism of massive retaliation, such as it was expressed by Fred Ikle [33], for example, to a good extent comes from the condemnation of a doctrine based on the death of millions of people. The arguments of the maximalists also conceal a moral condemnation: Not only is Soviet maritime power artificial but, moreover, it is in the service of a fundamentally bad cause. What is the effect of this in the final analysis? It contributes to the ex­pansion of communism. Now, the U.S. Navy has always been profoundly anticommunist: During the 1930’s already, its bitter opposition led to the failure of Stalin’s attempt to purchase a battleship and two destroyers from the United States [34]. Today, the rivalry between the USSR and the United States is not only a con­frontation between two rival powers; it is also a clash between two ideologies. The report of the Atlantic Council on the security of the oceans begins with this basic assertion: “The USSR, traditionally a group of peoples confined to land extending across central Europe and Asia, has openly declared its intention to export its communist doctrine all over the world. The United States, facing two big oceans and traditionally dependent on the oceans, has become the leader of a coalition of free and de­mocratic countries in a world troubled by economic risks and growing national revolutions” [35]. Here we again run into the traditional manichean approach: The aggressive mari­time power of the Soviets represents evil, against which there is lined up American maritime power as the protector of liberty and all that is good.

It would however be illusory and dangerous to be­lieve that the opposing interpretations of the minimalists and the maximalists spring exclusively from the mental habits of American strategists. They also spring from the complexity of the problem with which they are confronted. Ken Booth clearly showed that maritime power involves a large number of variables which involve both naval capaci­ties, the internal factors determining strategy, and foreign policy as well as the international context [36]. One cannot isolate the Soviet navy from the rest of its diplo­matic‑strategic conduct. The latter gives rise to extremely lively controversies and we can see that the naval debate has suffered the consequences of that: The split between the defensive concepts of the minimalists and the activist the­ses of the maximalists only reproduce the discussion on the general purposes of Soviet policy which bring a confronta­tion between the supporters of the idea of the “complex of encircle­ment”, triggering a defensive reflect, and those who think that the USSR has switched to the offensive in order to export the world revolution. This is an inevitable factor of division.

But that is not the only thing. Even if one picks a very restrictive concept of maritime power, eliminating from it all of the foreign influences in order to retain only the strictly naval variables, one would still run into con­siderable technical problems. This is because maritime power is essentially a moving thing, as James Cable re­called [37] and since the analysis of its objective components (the ships and their crews) and that of its subjective ele­ment (the employment doctrines) are extremely delicate and do not necessarily lead to a single explanation matrix.

The analysis of the objective components of maritime power consists in trying to determine the capacities and intentions of a fleet in the light of the technical features of its vessels. In the case of the Soviet navy, this study was conducted on several occasions, especially by Michael Mac Gwire [38]. For him, such an analysis “is not a panacea. But, because it rests on a solid basis of material data, it does fur­nish a relatively concrete form of reference on whose basis one can evaluate and interpret other types of testimony” [39]. Thus an examination of the classes that have come out since 1966 shows that “the main armament of these vessels in terms of missiles is ASW and not antisurface, as was thought in the beginning. This has major implications in terms of the fighting capacity of Soviet vessels in forward deployment” [40].

One can only admit the need for this kind of study. But one must also be aware of its limitations. A certain number of data are missing, especially on the degree of crew training and the level of command: The human vari­able of the Soviet fleet can only give rise to conjectures, whereas its size is at least as great as that of the material variables. But above all, according to Mac Gwire himself, one can only “deduce the primary mission or missions for which a class of vessels was designed” [41]. This did not appear to him to be too troublesome since he believes that the flexibility of maritime power springs from the existence of a surplus as compared to the means required for priority mis­sions. Since he denies that the Soviet mission has such a surplus [42], he was able to remain faithful to a monistic expla­nation – the forward deployment is essentially based on strategic defense considerations – and to minimize the political dimensions of the Soviet fleet.

As emphasized by Ken Booth, “the idea of surplus is central in the thesis stated by Mac Gwire [43]. One may doubt its pertinence and one might ask whether the flexibility of fleets does not reside rather in their very nature. James Cable noted that “the reasons why naval vessels are built rarely enable us to foresee the real nature of their employ­ment, even in wartime, and they are almost useless as re­gards their usefulness in peace­time” [44]. Regardless of its pri­mary mission, a ship can always be given other assign­ments and this is also true of the Soviet navy: “Naval flexi­bility is no longer an Anglo‑American prerogative. Admiral Gorshkov was an eminent propagandist for the flexibility of navies, stressing their numerous employment possibilities in addition to their primary missions in wartime” [45]. Under these conditions, would it not be better to tackle the ques­tion in a negative fashion as was done by Cable: “To esti­mate the capacities of Soviet warships in peacetime, it may be useful to overlook the intentions of their builders and to concentrate only on negative questions: Is there a peacetime role which they are technically incapable of playing or which they are manifestly prevented from playing by the need for maintaining an immediate readiness with a view to nuclear war? If this analysis reveals the existence of useable vessels not committed beyond recall in peacetime, then it will be necessary to try to find out whether there are Soviet doc­trines that can encourage or prevent their employment for diplomatic purposes” [46]. The study of the objective component of maritime power must be completed by an analysis of its subjective element: The employment doctrines.

The latter have been the subject of special attention on the part of the Anglo‑Saxon strategists in recent years: The publication of the writings of Admiral Gorshkov – a series of articles in Morskoy Sbornik, Navies in Peace and War, in 1972‑1973 [illegible in Photostat], and a book enti­tled La puissance maritime de l’Etat [The Maritime Power of the State] in 1976, ­triggered a vast debate. The study of the strategic concepts of Soviet naval authors thus became a preferred exercise for many commentators. In 1977, James Mac Connell, in response to a question on the va­lidity of future war scenarios, admitted “to tell you the truth, I do not look at them. I above all concentrate on what the Soviets say” [47]. Such an attitude is dangerous because these writings are extremely ambiguous: Not only because, according to the formula of Raymond Aron on Soviet Marx­ism, “doctrine contains a theory and founds a propa­ganda” [48], but also because there is not necessarily agree­ment between the viewpoints of the sailors and the mis­sions which are assigned to them as part of global strategy. Paul Nitze reports that a Soviet admiral one day confirmed to him that the navy would gladly have devoted a good por­tion of the funds allocated for strategic submarines to con­ventional programs but that the decision was forced upon him by the political establishment [49]. Western analysts, with the notable exception of James Mac Connell [50], agree in seeing in Gorshkov’s theses a plea and not an expression of the doctrine now in force [51]. A debate did take place and, although it seems almost certain that the navy’s missions were enlarged [52], one cannot say with certainty whether it could fight its war with broad autonomy or whether, on the contrary, it would have to bow to the demands of global strategy and thus of the army, which would not fail to re­mind it of the importance of its traditional mission of sup­porting land operations in coastal waters.

But the problem does not stop there. Strategic analysis, as was underscored by Peter Soverel, must take into account capacities, intentions, but also circumstances [53]. Even if we were to manage precisely to identify the task, assigned to the navy, it would be dangerous to extrapolate from this its real behavior in a conflict. Here we come back to the problem mentioned earlier, the problem of flexibility of fleets: The order of priorities established in peacetime may very well be turned upside down by war. As Frank Uhlig re­called, there is no dearth of examples: The Ger­mans before 1914 and the Americans before 1941 had ex­pected to use their submarines against navies but they very quickly sent them against merchant shipping; in both cases, the adversary, who was not prepared for this possibility, suffered from it con­siderably, to the point of losing the war, as in the case of the latter [Germany] [54]. Concentrating exclu­sively on the strategic ASW struggle or the fight against aircraft carriers because Soviet literature reserves much space for them, means exposing oneself once again to slipping into the flagrant crime of unpreparedness; even though the Soviet submarines are not directed mostly against Western shipping, they are bound to constitute a terrible threat which the Western navies must meet.

As we can see, there is no method that would enable us to come up with a single explanation that would be ac­cepted by everybody and that situation has no chance of changing so long as the flexibility of maritime power con­tinues to exist. We can therefore understand the diversity of theses we are dealing with. Should we conclude from this that the analysis has failed and that it is impossible to ar­rive at an objective knowledge of the Soviet fleet? The diag­nosis fortunately is not as somber as all that. Apart from the somewhat useless discussions on the offensive or defen­sive nature of Soviet naval strategy, we realize that the studies conducted over the past decade made it possible to arrive at a certain number of conclusions that are now rather widely accepted. Ken Booth remarked quite cor­rectly that the gap between the defensive theses of Mac Gwire and those of Robert Weinland, the leader of the activist school, is in the final analysis “quite narrow. There is consensus on the initial reasons for the construction of the modern Soviet fleet and on the progressively enlarged de­ployment model. The difference on the current orientations is a matter of degree rather than of nature and, as regards the problem facing the western navies, their conclusions would appear to be largely similar” [55]. It is this convergence on the technical questions and most of the basic questions, which must be exploited in attempting a summary on Soviet mari­time power.

There are two pitfalls that must be avoided. First of all there is the pit­fall of dogmatism: The analysis can only have a probabilistic character; its conclusions can always be challenged by new developments; and, regardless of the degree of sophistication of the investigation methods and the forward­ looking scenarios, they always entail a margin of uncertainty; according to the famous saying by the Older Moltke, “in war, the enemy always has a choice between three solutions but in general he will pick the fourth one”. Next comes the pitfall of boiling everything down to just about nothing: The Soviet Union became a big maritime power and its expansion can no longer be explained by a single variable. The great change during the 1970’s springs precisely from the switch to multiple missions: The fleet’s new importance in the global strategy of the Soviet Union, as we saw, does not result from a quantitative growth but from a redefinition of its place in strategy; it has ceased to be an adjunct to the Ground Forces and it has acquired its own independence and accomplishes all the missions of a first‑ranking fleet: The strategic nuclear mission, general military missions, and political missions. This three‑part arrangement does not have any absolute value and we would have a difficult time finding it in Soviet doctrine, one of whose characteristics on the contrary is to consider strat­egy as a whole without ever separating the military func­tions from the political functions, nor the strategic nuclear level from the conventional level. But it will enable us to grasp the different missions of the Soviet fleet more easily.

[1] International Institute of Strategic Studies, Strategic Survey 1979, French translation Situation stratégique mondiale 1979, Berger‑Levrault, Paris, 1980, pp 48‑49. Kenneth R. Mac Gruther wrote the following with admirable candor: “It was only in the midle of the 1960’s that a rigorous effort was made to understand what was behind the Soviet navy’s growth and development. Quite by chance, this effort coincided with the switch, by the Soviet navy, from an essentially defensive and coastal role to an oceanic strategy oriented toward the outside world.” The evolving Soviet navy, Naval War College Press, Newport, Rhode Island, 1978, p 1. Indeed one should not blame chance but rather that change in Soviet strategy which, as Mac Gruther wrote immediately thereafter, apparently without clearly understanding the cause‑and‑effect link, brought out “the need for under­standing what was behind the growth of the Soviet navy in terms of capital ships.”

[2] See the bibliography in this volume.

[3] James Cable, Gunboat diplomacy. Political application of limited naval force, Chatto and Windus, London, 1970, p 130.

[4] James Cable, Gunboat diplomacy. Political application of limited naval force, op. cit., p 190.

[5] Mairin Mitchell, Histoire maritime de la Russie [Maritime History of Russia], Les deux rives, Paris, 1952, p 44.

[6] See Norman Friedman, Modern warship. Design and development, Conway Maritime Press, Greenwich, 1979, p 28.

[7] Raymond L. Garthoff, La doctrine militaire sovietique [Soviet Military Doctrine], French translation, Plon, Paris, 1956, p 328.

[8] It is of course understood that the arms race is a much more complex phenomenon, involving a large number of factors. See also Colin S. Gray, “The arms race phenomenon”; World Politics, October 1971, pp 39‑79.

[9] The idea presented here came from Michael Mac Gwire. See, in particular, his article entitled: “The rationale for the development of Soviet sea power”, US Naval Institute Proceedings, May 1980. It has been discussed quite passionately. We will come back to this controversy.

[10] This interpretation was challenged, as we know, by General Gallois who maintained that Khruschev’s policy in reality was to get a commitment from the United States not to attack Cuba and that this goal was attained. Kennedy did give such an assurance. But we really cannot see why Khruschev should have decided to pay such a price for a declaration of nonintervention since, after the Bay of Pigs, an invasion of the island was no longer credible. On the other hand, the book by Graham T. Allison, Explaining a decision: the Cuban missile crisis (Little Brown, Boston, 1971), definitively established the objective of the operation and it certainly was military: The installation of 48 short‑range missiles (MRBM) and 24 medium‑range missiles (IRBM) would have doubled the Soviet strike capacity against the United States.

[11] Michael Mac Gwire, “The rationale for the development of Soviet sea power,” article cited, p 156.

[12] Robert H. Herrick, Soviet naval strategy. Fifty years of theory and practice, US Naval Institute, Annapolis, 1968. Michael Mac Gwire, “Soviet naval capabilities and intentions,” in The Soviet Union and the Near East: her capabilities and intentions, RUSI, London, 1971.

[13] Michael Mac Gwire, “Changing naval operations and military intervention”, Naval War College Review, spring 1977, p 12.

[14] See, for example, his analysis of the new policy of overseas military presence, determined in 1969 and challenged after 1972. Michael Mac Gwire, “The overseas role of a Soviet military presence”, in Michael Mac Gwire and John Mac Donnell (eds), Soviet naval influence. Domestic and foreign dimensions, Praeger, New York, 1977, pp 31‑57.

[15] Michael Mac Gwire, “The Soviet navy in the seventies”, in Michael Mac Gwire and John Mac Donnell (eds), Soviet naval influence. Domestic and foreign dimensions, op. cit., p 642.

[16] We must report a very definite development in his later writings, especially Michael Mac Gwire, “A new trend in Soviet naval development”, Naval War College Review, july‑august 1980.

[17] James T. Westwood, “Soviet naval strategy. A reexamination”, US Naval Institute Proceedings, May 1978, p 127.

[18] Gary Charbonneau, “The Soviet navy and forward deployment”, US Naval Institute Proceedings, March 1979, p 39.

[19] Gary Charbonneau, “The Soviet‑navy and forward deployment”, article cited, p 40.

[20] Legend: 1. Aircraft carriers; 2. other surface vessels; 3. submarines; 4. ­command ships; 5. miscellaneous patrol craft; 6. amphibious vessels; 7. anti­mine vessels; 8. mobile logistic support; 9. miscellaneous support vessels; 10. the United States; 11. USSR.

[21] Legend: 1. Strategic ocean force; 2. combat vessels; 3. amphibious vessels; 4. logistic support vessels; 5. the United States; 6. the USSR.

[22]  John Mac Intyre, Les navires de combat [Fighting vessels], Le Seuil, Paris, 1975, p. 26.

[23] Jean‑Louis Martres, International Relations Course, University of Bordeaux‑I, 1977‑1978.

[24] Starting in 1958, attention was drawn to the threat represented by the Soviet fleet in a team product: M.G. Saunders, The Soviet navy, Praeger, New York, 1958.

[25] Jean‑Louis Martres, “The effects deriving from Soviet power as regards the Western Coalition”, in Francis Conte and Jean‑Louis Martres, The Soviet Union in International Relations, conference at the Comparative Political Analysis Center, Economica, Paris, 1982, p. 110.

[26] Stansfield Turner, “The naval balance: not just a numbers game”, Foreign Affairs, Jan 1977, p. 347.

[27] Rolf Steinhaus, “The northern flank”, in James L. George (ed), Problems of sea power as we approach the 21st century, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, New York, 1978, pp 146‑147.

[28] Hedley Bull, “Sea power and political influence”, in “Power at sea. The new environment”, Adelphi Papers, No 122, p. 4.

[29] Paul H. Nitze, Leonard Sullivan Jr and the Atlantic Council working Group on securing the seas, Securing the seas. The Soviet naval challenge and Western Alliance options, hestview Press, Boulder, Colorado, 1979, p. 31.

[30] Paul H. Nitze, Leonard Sullivan Jr and the Atlantic Council working Group on securing the seas, Securing the seas. The Soviet naval challenge and Western Alliance options, hestview Press, Boulder, Colorado, 1979, p. 31.

[31] Raymond Aron, “Strategy and Deterrence”, Défense nationale, January 1975.

[32] Hector Bywateri Les marines de guerre et la politique des nations depuis la guerre, [Navies and Policies of Nations after War], Payot, Paris, 1930, pp. 161 ff.

[33] Fred Ikle, “Can the deterrence last out the century”, Foreign Affairs, Jan 1973.

[34] On this affair, see Thomas R. Maddux, “US‑Soviet naval relations in the 1930s. The Soviet effort to purchase naval vessels”, Naval War College Review, pp. 28‑37.

[35] Paul H. Nitze and Leonard Sullivan Jr and the Atlantic Council, Working Group, Securing the seas. The Soviet naval challenge and Western Alliance options, op. cit., p. 3.

[36] Ken Booth, Navies and foreign policy, Croom Helm, London, 1977, p. 167.

[37] James Cable, Gunboat diplomacy. Political application of limited naval force, op. cit., p. 12.

[38] See especially Michael Mac Gwire and John Mac Donnell, Soviet naval influence. Domestic and foreign dimensions, op. cit., ch. 17 and 18. An updated version of this last chapter was published in Paul J. Murphy (ed Naval power in Soviet policy), US Government Printing Office, Washington, 1978, pp. 77‑107.

[39] Michael Mac Gwire, “The turning points in Soviet naval policy”, in Michael Mac Gweire (ed), Soviet naval developments: capability and context, Praeger, New York, 1973, p. 217.

[40] Michael Mac Gwire, “Soviet naval programs”, in Michael Mac Gwire and John Mac Donnell (eds), Soviet naval influence. Domestic and foreign dimensions, op. cit., p. 337.

[41] Michael Mac Gwire, Soviet naval developments: capability and context, op. cit., p. 184.

[42] Michael Mac Gwire, Soviet naval developments: capability and context, op. cit., p 501. He further confirmed it in 1978 in Soviet‑American naval arms control, Center for Foreign Policy Studies, University Halifax, Dalhousie, Nova Scotia, unpublished, p. 44.

[43] Ken Booth, Navies and foreign policy, op. cit., p. 180.

[44] James Cable, Gunboat diplomacy. Political application of limited naval force, op. cit., p. 131.

[45] Ken Booth, Navies and foreign policy, op. cit., p. 182.

[46] James Cable, Gunboat diplomacy. Political application of limited naval force, op. cit., p. 131.

[47] James Mac Connell, “Discussion”, in James L. George (ed), Problem of sea power as we approach the 21st century, op. cit., p 85.

[48] Raymond Aron, Penser la guerre. [Thoughts on War], Clausewitz. Volume II: The Planetary Age, Gallimard, Paris, 1976.

[49] Paul H. Nitze, “Discussion”, in James L. George (ed), Problems of sea power as we approach the 21st century, op. cit., p. 91.

[50] James Mac Connell, “Military political tasks of the Soviet navy in war and peace”, in Soviet oceans development, National Ocean Policy‑Study Committee, 94th Congress, and session, USGPO, Washington, October 1976, p 18. The demonstration is not convincing.

[51] See Michael Mac Gwaire, “Naval power and Soviet oceans policy”, in Soviet oceans development, op. cit., p. 167 ff. for a critique by Mac Connell.

[52] See below, p. 122.

[53] Peter Soverel, “Problems of sea power in the Western Pacific as we approach the 21st century”, in James L. George, Problems of sea power as we approach the 21st century, op. cit., pp 163‑164.

[54] Frank Uhlig, “Commentary”, in James L. George, Problems of sea power as we approach the 21st century, op. cit., p 71. For the decisive and often unknown results of American submarine warfare against Japan in the Pacific, see also Theodore Roscoe, The Silent Service (French translation), France‑Empire, Paris, 1980, pp 298‑300.

[55] Ken Booth, Navies and foreign policy, op. cit., p. 183.



 Copyright - 2005 - Conception - Bertrand Degoy, Alain De Neve, Joseph Henrotin